Florida governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill Monday that will require public-school students to “reflect and to be able to pray as they see fit” for one to two minutes each day.
While state law already “encourages” students to participate in “silent prayer,” the new legislation, which goes into effect July 1, will require the daily moment of silence. The bill requires public-school principals to direct first-period teachers to hold a moment of silence each day.
“It’s something that’s important to be able to provide each student the ability, every day, to be able to reflect and to be able to pray as they see fit,” DeSantis said in a speech at Shul of Bal Harbour, a Jewish community center, before signing the bill.
“The idea that you can just push God out of every institution, and be successful — I’m sorry, our founding fathers did not believe that,” he added.
Fifteen other states also encourage public-school students to participate in a moment of silence, according to the Associated Press.
The bill instructs teachers to encourage parents to discuss the moment of silence with their children. However, teachers can’t offer suggestions to students about what to do during the moment of silence.
Democratic state representative Omari Hardy opposed the bill and argued that the sponsors are trying to push prayer in public schools.
“The Republican who sponsored the bill said that it wasn’t about prayer in school. (Of course it was!) But when you question their motives, or their honesty, it’s called a personal attack & deemed out of order. No. The Republicans lie, and we need to call them on it every time,” Hardy wrote in a tweet Monday.
The Republican who sponsored the bill said that it wasn't about prayer in school. (Of course it was!)
But when you question their motives, or their honesty, it's called a personal attack & deemed out of order.
No. The Republicans lie, and we need to call them on it every time. https://t.co/BSDKJuS3fu
— Rep. Omari Hardy (@OmariJHardy) June 14, 2021
However, during a Senate floor debate in April, Republican state senator Dennis Baxley argued that the bill will give schoolchildren a silent moment to reflect.
Commissioner of education Richard Corcoran said the bill “empowers families to begin those ongoing conversations with their child on what they might reflect on during the moment of silence, and help them use this time as an opportunity to prepare for the upcoming day.”
Similarly, state representative Randy Fine said that “children desperately need time for quiet reflection” during times of “technological, media-driven, and societal turmoil.”